‘Citadel’ Ending, Explained: Who Was Responsible For The Fall Of The Citadel?


Dahlia had hinted in the previous episodes of Citadel that there was a rogue agent because of who she had gained all the secret intel and was able to bring down the entire organization and execute the Citadel agents around the globe. Dahlia blamed Citadel for taking the lives of innocent people, and it always felt like she had a personal motive, because of which she wanted to see the organization burn down to ashes.

Spoilers Alert

Eight years ago, Citadel decided to go on a mission to hack into an automated Russian submarine (the same one that Dahlia wanted control of) and install their own security system on it so that only Citadel agents had access to it. Mason had decided to volunteer for the job, but he told Grace that he wanted something in return. As we had seen in the earlier episodes of Season 1, Nadia, after she realized that she was pregnant, decided to leave with her father and go into hiding until she gave birth. Nadia hadn’t told anybody about her whereabouts, and neither had she told Mason that it was his child she was bearing. Mason was in love with Nadia, and he believed that Grace knew where she had gone. Grace told him that she was in Berlin, but he had reason to believe that she was not telling him the truth. Mason went to the submarine and accomplished the mission, but he didn’t hand over the operative controls to Citadel. He once again told Grace that he would not transfer it unless and until he learned Nadia’s whereabouts. Around that same time, i.e., Eight years before from the current timeline, Mason met Bernard and got to know that Nadia didn’t want him to know that she had given birth to their daughter, considering she didn’t think that he was up for the responsibility. Most probably, Mason never went to see Nadia, and soon after that, Manticore waged an all-out attack after they got their hands on the secret intel, as a result of which Mason never got a chance to talk to her until he met her after losing his memory.

Was Mason Able To Get His Memory Back?

In episode 5, we saw that Dahlia had Mason and Nadia’s daughter in her custody, and she told them that they would get her only when she got the nukes that were inside a submarine in the Pacific. They had to fly an aircraft and then jump from it onto the surface of the submarine and go inside to complete the mission. Nadia wanted to make the jump instead of Mason because she knew that since he had lost his memory, he was not the same skilled soldier that he used to be. But since it was only Mason’s biometrics that could give them access to the nukes, he had no option but to make the jump. The Citadel spy nearly fell off the submarine, but Davik pulled him on board just in time. As soon as the Mason gave access, Davik turned on him and went inside the submarine to take charge of things. Davik knew that Dahlia had killed his brother Anders, and he threatened her to give him a seat at the table if she didn’t want him launching those missiles and destroying five different cities. Dahlia said that she didn’t negotiate with traitors, and before he could launch those missiles, she would send the submarine down to the abyss. Because the launch sequence was started by Davik, the only way it could be stopped was by taking out the cores. Meanwhile, Nadia couldn’t resist her impulse, and she jumped from the aircraft and came into the submarine to help Mason out. Mason killed Davik, and Nadia was able to take out the cores though at one point in time, it felt like Nadia wouldn’t make it, but Mason arrived just at the right time, injected her with adrenaline, and saved her life.

Nadia, Carter, and Mason headed to Valencia, where they had to meet Christoff to hand over the nuclear cores and get back to their daughter. As soon as Dahlia’s men got the cores, they saw that they were encrypted, as Mason had the operative controls. Eight years ago, after accomplishing the red cell mission, he had never transferred the operative control to Citadel, but the problem was that he didn’t remember anything, so he didn’t know how to open it. Nadia realized that they didn’t have any option but to attack Manticore agents, as they would never believe that Mason was not faking it and that he actually did not remember a single thing. Nadia asked Carter to take the shot and kill the man who was holding their daughter while Mason attacked the others present at the scene. 

All three of them went back to Citadel headquarters, and that’s when Carter told everybody that he had figured out a way to bring back Mason’s memory. Just moments he told that before Abby and Hendrix had arrived and Mason introduced them to Carter and Nadia, not knowing that Abby, too, was a spy and Nadia’s best friend back in the day. Nadia was more scared than happy after Carter told everyone that Mason would get his memories back. Nadia didn’t know how he would be able to cope with all that information, which had the potential to throw him off balance. Carter injected the potion inside Mason, and just seconds later, his entire life flashed in front of his eyes. He stood there in anguish, and he didn’t know whether he was better off not knowing what he had done in the past, as the truth was like a bitter pill that was way too difficult to swallow.

‘Citadel’ Ending Explained: Why Did Mason Betray His Own Agency?

Kyle Conroy, a.k.a. Mason Kane, had gone to meet Dahlia eight years before the current timeline, when she was a diplomat, to seek her help in finding Nadia. Dahlia was a bit disappointed when she got to know that Mason had come to ask for a favor, as she had thought before that he was coming to just meet her. There was a sense of secrecy in the way she talked, and it felt like they both knew something that they were not addressing directly. Mason said that he needed her help to find Nadia as she was his wife, and Dahlia, perceiving the seriousness of his tone, agreed to help him locate her. We don’t know when exactly they got married and probably it is one of those numerous things that the series leaves for us to speculate and ascertain.

The biggest revelation is made in the 6th and final episode of Citadel season 1 when we get to know that Dahlia, the woman who is leading Manticore, is Mason Kane’s mother. Almost 30 years ago, in Serbia, there was an explosion in a building, and 157 innocent people lost their lives. Mason’s father was one of them, and even Dahlia was severely injured. After skin grafts were used to treat the third-degree burns, Dahlia’s face changed so much that even she couldn’t recognize herself in the mirror. The skin graft might have treated the external wounds, but there was no remedy available to heal the internal ones that had caused a permanent indentation in Dahlia’s core. No matter how much she tried, she could never get over what had happened. She could never return to her old life, and though she loved Mason, she knew that it was in the best interest of everybody if she stayed away from him. A few years ago, Dahlia came to know that what she had been told earlier was a big lie. The right-wing terror cell, which was blamed for orchestrating the explosion, had no hand in it. Dahlia came to know that it was not a car bomb that had killed the people back then, but someone had carried out a missile attack.

Everybody knew that the Serbian terror group leader, Stankovich, did not have the kind of resources to carry out an air strike, but nobody spoke about it, and the secret got buried beneath the rubble of that building. But Dahlia kept searching for the truth—the truth that had overturned her entire life and converted her into this spiteful being who thought of nothing else but taking revenge on the perpetrators. Finally, Dahlia found out that Citadel was responsible for that explosion. Just a few days before the airstrikes, Citadel had expressed to NATO that it wanted to carry out an all-out attack on the Serbian terror group. They decided to carry out an air strike, but unfortunately, they had the wrong coordinates, and they ended up killing all those innocent people.

The information was too much for Mason to handle, and it felt like his entire life was a lie. He was proud that he was a part of such a prestigious organization, but this truth changed everything. Dahlia asked Mason to divulge the secrets of the organization, as now that he was a part of it, he had access to all the information that was not available in the public forum. Dahlia had said that she would press charges in court and bring the truth to light.

At the end of Citadel, Mason probably got convinced by her mother and ended up sharing all the secret intel with her. Dahlia, instead of finding a legal remedy, took matters into her own hands and ordered her men to execute each and every Citadel spy that existed on the face of the earth. It was not Nadia, but Mason Kane, who was responsible for the fall of the Citadel. Nadia saw it in his eyes that he was feeling remorseful and penitent, and given the option, he would readily go back to not knowing anything, as it was a much better state to be in. The upcoming seasons would tell us how he would go about his life from hereon and what he would do to deal with all the guilt and disappointment.

Final Words

The makers are all set to expand the spy universe and introduce many more super agents, in addition to Nadia and Mason, from different parts of the world. There are going to be many seasons of Citadel, but the question we ask here is: do we actually want to see more of them coming out? We are going to be blunt about the fact that we didn’t like Citadel season 1, and we are more disappointed as there was no excuse that the makers could have for not being able to create an engaging thriller, as they had all the resources in the world available to them. There was no constraint when it came to the budgeting of the project; they had all the A-listers on board, yet they failed to deliver when it came to the screenplay. There are times when having multiple timelines running parallel enhances the narrative and makes it much more intriguing, but in Citadel, it only caused confusion, and there didn’t seem to be any point beating around the bush when things could have been dealt with in a more linear manner, which we believe would have been more impactful.

I personally never got attached to any character, and I believe the editing team also has a role to play in this. I wouldn’t have minded if I wasn’t shown that submarine scene, and the makers would have rather opted to make us witness the past lives of Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh so that we could come to know them better and understand their motives. The big reveal at the end of season 1 would have also impacted us more if we had been invested in the characters and had a better grasp of their belief system and what made them act the way they did. We felt bad at how underutilized Stanley Tucci was, and we hope we see more of him in future seasons. We hope that the makers in the upcoming seasons will focus more on creating an engaging screenplay rather than relying on just a stylization and all sorts of gimmicks that are shiny on the outside but hollow from within.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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